Thursday, October 23, 2014

What Is Divorce?

"αθεοι" (atheoi), Greek for "th...
"αθεοι" (atheoi), Greek for "those without god", as it appears in the Epistle to the Ephesians on the third-century papyrus known as "Papyrus 46" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My ex-husband would leave me early in the evening so he could get into the bars before the cover charge went into effect. This, he said, was because we had so little money. Financed only with bravado, he'd shoot pool for drinks and come home drunk.

I was left with a child, no TV, poor radio reception, and a party line. My best friend was never home those evenings, so loneliness and lack of self-esteem flourished in my love-starved soul.

Neither of us were Christians, and I had never heard the admonition of Ephesians 5:25. " Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." I never knew a man, or a woman, could love a spouse so intensely. Imagine God's love for us: Jesus allowed himself to be whipped and mocked and crucified because he love us more than himself.

Because a man does not love a woman in this manner doesn't mean she should head for divorce court. But a sacrificial love is the life blood of a strong marriage. Like the lack of blood, without a love that prefers the other above yourself, the marriage will necrotize and die.

Ephesians goes on to say in verse twenty-eight, "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself." It doesn't say to love yourself first. Love of self only comes with the love of your spouse.

In the same section of Ephesians, verse 22, women are simply admonished to "... submit to your husbands as to the Lord". Submission is a dirty word in our society, but its meaning is misunderstood. It does not mean to kowtow to every whim of your spouse. It does not mean your husband becomes a god you must adore. However, as we explore the definition of Biblical marriage and divorce, we will see how submission to a godly husband aids in the protection of and devotion to a wife.

Day 150: And that's that.
Day 150: And that's that. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Love, protection, respect, submission. These four elements lead to a strong marriage. Their absence is not a licence for divorce, but a steady absence of these elements will destroy a marriage. Partners may stay together because they believe divorce is unbiblical--however, divorce is more than legal papers dissolving the union.

Divorce is the absence of love, protection, respect and submission. You can still be married and yet be divorced.

What is marriage to you? What is your definition of divorce? Do you have questions you'd like to explore? Leave a comment.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Divorce: A Biblical Perspective

Once upon a time
I am divorced.

It is not the unpardonable sin, despite the theology of many churches. A sad example of how unforgiving many Christians can be about this issue is seen in the calling of a dear friend of mine.

"Sam" had been called into the ministry. With all of his being, he wanted to be a pastor. However, prior to his conversion, his first wife left him for another man. Close to suicide, Sam became a Christian and his sins were forgiven.

Apparently, all was forgiven but his divorce. He attended a neighborhood church with his new wife. There, he was flatly informed he could not preach or be involved in what they called ministry because of his pre-salvation divorce.

In a similar manner, one Baptist minisJesus Christ.
ter told me I could never remarry even though my divorce came before my acceptance of

And so I wonder. Had Sam or I murdered our cheating spouses and done our time, could we remarry? Could we minister? Is murder a more tolerable sin than ending up in an abusive relationship or with a philandering spouse and having the dignity to leave? Must divorced people be punished for all time for a sin not their own?

Even if a person destroys his or her own marriage and truly repents, should the punishment go on in perpetuity?

I, in no way, cavalierly endorse the end of a marriage. But marriage takes two people.

Then, we need to define divorce. When Michal scorned David, he never went in to her again--but never divorced her. Even in New Testament times, men could marry more than one woman, so could a Biblical divorce be the ending of support for the woman? Moses and the law allowed for it and accepted a remarriage. In those days, survival was nearly impossible for a single woman without a husband.

But what about people who stay married, live in the same house, but essentially have nothing to do with each other. Haven't they already divorced their spouses?

We do have explicit exceptions given in the New Testament, but the culture of the times would have understood some of the implicit issues.

Over the next few weeks, I'd like to explore divorce, remarriage, and most importantly, what does it mean to be a Christian couple?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fenians in Malone: Part 4

On May 27, 1870, five hundred additional Fenians reinforced the straggling,  poorly trained group at Leahy's farm in Trout River. They were well situated behind a ditch in a hops' field, had a stout barricade across the highway and woods and the river on
their flanks. Had they been well trained and well led, they could have withheld against any attack and had a successful raid on Canada.

Of course, that did not happen.

One thousand Canadian troops attacked. After a short, disorderly battle, the Fenians scattered. "They fired only a single full volley when the advance began" (Seaver 674). All these shots, and the few rounds that followed, all flew over the heads of the Canadian troops.
Only a few injuries resulted overall, so the Canadians were not much better prepared.

The fleeing Fenians escaped over the border, and the Canadian troops did not follow.

And the fleeing scene is something worthy of a Hollywood comedy. The Fenians swarmed Trout River, ran to Leahy's far and continued on back to Malone throwing away their armaments, or battering them away for food, as they scattered.

On May 28, back at the Fairgrounds, some officers tried to rally the troops for another attack. Hungry and tired, the refused. This appears to be good for them as one thousand US regulars arrived the next morning and would have suppressed the attack.

As a result of the battle, no Canadians were killed, Three or four Fenians were wounded, and one was taken prisoner. According to Seaver, the Fenians themselves were good fighters, but their leadership lacked talent.

Seaver, Fredrick. Historical Sketches of Franklin Countly. Albany: JP Lyons, 1918.